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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Last Night's Panel Was a Great Success

Thank you all for coming out last night for the "Multi Platform Editing-Presenting Your Work to the New Media Landscape" panel. Thanks to our great panelists: Chris Owyoung, Alex Wright, Alison Zavos, Erin Rabasca, Joe Pritchard and Roberto De Luna. Thanks to Kaia Hemming of APA and John Dessereau of Calumet Photographic for pulling it all together, and to Tony Gale for the photo.

For those of you who couldn't get in, we are discussing the possibility of doing it again soon. And hopefully you can see an edited version shortly online (more details to come).
Kristina Feliciano who writes the Stockland Martel blog reviewed it here

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Where Will Your Photos Appear Now?

I’ve been reading a lot and thinking a lot about the new media platforms that are being touted: from Kindle to the Nook to the Manhattan Project of Time Inc. to iPhones to the Skiff and the like, and wondering what that means for photographers. And that’s not even mentioning Apple’s upcoming entry into this sweepstakes. So, are photographers thinking in terms of new technology and how it will affect their work? Will people be composing their images differently if the medium changes?

When you look at an image on an iPhone or iPod or other small device can you see the image and get what the photographer wants you to understand? As with thumbnails on a website, do all images translate to that small screen? And if not, what does the photographer do? How do you edit for this new world of content?

It seems to me that photographers needs to think in these terms, just as they hopefully thought about how their photos would appear on a computer screen, as the transition from solely print portfolios shifted to include images on the screen.

To this end I will be moderating a panel produced by APA on January 27 to be held at Calumet Photographic. For more info and to register go here.

There will be these great panelists:
Roberto De Luna, photo editor at TimeOut
Joe Pritchard, photographer’s rep at Vaughn-Hannigan
Alison Zavos, independent curator of
Alex Wright, co-creator of Dripbook
Erin Rabasca, head of art buying R/GA
Chris Owyoung, music photographer

A raffle for valuable gifts and a chance to talk and think about what’s coming down the pike for you. Be there.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

The People of Haiti by Les Stone

Les Stone, multi-award winning photojournalist first went to Haiti in 1987 after the Duvalier dictatorship fell. Since then he has visited to Haiti dozens of times to document that religious life of the people. You can read more about Les and his incredible career in an interview I did in July here. I thought it was fitting to show you some of the beauty of the people of Haiti at this devastating time.

If you haven't done it yet, please donate to help the people of Haiti.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help Haiti And Give What You Can

I have spent the last few days glued to the TV watching the news and images come out of Haiti. My blog is focused on photography, but this trumps that, so I am asking everyone to give what you can. As a supporter of Doctors Without Borders, I suggest them, and you can donate here. But there are dozens of good, dedicated organizations who need your help.
So don't just watch, give.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Judith Fox, I Still Do

I met Judith Fox at last year's ReviewLA portfolio review. When she opened her portfolio and I got a first look at her photos I found myself tearing up--a most unusual reaction. Judith told me she had been photographing her husband Ed who has had Alzheimer's Disease for the past ten years. I was so moved by the intimacy and rawness of the photos, and by the way she faced the subject head on.
In October, powerHouse published her work in a book, "I Still Do". On Saturday, January 9, "I Still Do" opens at the Andrea Meislin Gallery in New York.

There is nothing coy or precious in these photos. We see how frail the body really is, and how it can betray us. When you look into Ed's eyes you can't help but think about the photographer and her subject and how intertwined they are. There is a fierce honesty in Judith's photographs. This project is about both of them, and gives us a lesson in how to look unsparingly at the world around us.

Tell me a little of your background and how you came to photography

I grew up in New York (where I won, in third grade, a New York City art contest.) In hindsight, I was an artist and an entrepreneur from childhood. When I was nine, I combined my interest in art and my skills as an entrepreneur and successfully sold packages of seeds door-to-door so that I could “win” a Brownie camera.

A fast-forward summary of my career highlights: I was a freelance writer for national magazines; I owned a photography studio on Long Island; I started and ran a temporary service in Virginia and New York (18 years later I sold my company to a New York Stock Exchange firm); I exhibited and sold my fine art photography; I created a book of photographs called "I Still Do: Loving and Living with Alzheimer’s” which was published by powerHouse books in October, 2009.

Tell me about how and why “I Still Do” came to be
When I started photographing my husband, Ed Ackell, I thought I was doing so as an artistic challenge to myself in response to a book I’d read called “The Model Wife.” Where, I wondered, is “The Model Husband”? Then I realized I was married to him. So I started seriously photographing my husband, my model, my muse.

Ed had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease three years after we were married (I was widowed, he was divorced) and I started “I Still Do” three years after his diagnosis. In time, I realized that my project was also about living with AD and that I was photographing Ed as he was leaving me.

When I first saw the project earlier this year I was so moved by the intimacy of the photographs. How hard was it to begin, and has it been difficult for your husband and for you?

It was easy to begin the project, in part because I didn’t initially relate it (consciously) to AD.

Photographing the man I love was an intimate process. When I watched Ed through my camera lens, despite the distance of several feet between us, I felt as though I was caressing him. My camera wasn’t an obstruction, it was another way of touching him; and my photography helped me stay sane while the demanding role of caregiver continued to balloon.

What made you decide to show the work and to create the book? Has this been difficult?

When I showed the first group of photographs I’d taken of Ed to Arthur Ollman, the founding director of the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) and the author of “The Model Wife,” he told me I had a book. Before going forward with that as a goal, I thought about what it meant in terms of giving up our privacy; and I discussed it with Ed. My husband supported my work and believed in me, and I knew that the only way to create the kind of book I believed in was to be honest and open. Once I made that decision, the rest was relatively easy.

Talk about making the contacts to get the book out there

For many years, while I was making the photographs that would become part of “I Still Do,” I was focused on my husband and the world of Alzheimer’s. I didn’t think about marketing the work, or my photography, or connecting with a photography community until sometime around 2007. I started by meeting with Mary Virginia Swanson (a very good move) and then I started attending a few portfolio reviews.

As a result of attending reviews, my sample book was seen by a number of interested publishers and reviewers. Because of that process, I received two offers to publish “I Still Do” and I signed a contract with powerHouse Books. Less than a year later, my book was released.

Of course, nothing is quite that simple—there was an agent who told me he wouldn’t take my book on because there wasn’t a publishing house that would print a book about such a depressing subject, no matter how beautifully done. After talking with three prospective agents, I decided it would be easier to find a publisher myself than to find an agent. I was right.

Is this still an ongoing project?
Marketing and publicizing a book is a full-time job; it’s part two of creating a book and getting it published.

I’m no longer photographing Ed—at least as I write this. But I’ve become an advocate on behalf of AD as a result of writing “I Still Do.” I’ve been invited to travel the world to talk about my book and living with AD. The book and photography are leading to amazing opportunities, including several gallery and museum shows.

I have several other photography projects in process (photography that’s very different from the work in the book—and work about which I’m very excited.)

Talk about adding the text—usually people add too much, yet in your book it is almost haiku
The text came about towards the end of the project. I knew I didn’t want to provide traditional captions for the photographs, nor did I want to write so much that it distracted from the images. I started writing in a spare style and found that it enabled me to say what I wanted to in a manner that interested me. The writing became a very important, fulfilling and enjoyable part of the process and project.

What do you want people to take away from seeing your work?
I want them to better understand the human beings who are dealing with Alzheimer’s—and to know that it’s a disease that can happen to anybody. I want people to understand the pain that’s involved in living with AD, and the desperate need to find better treatments and an eventual cure for the disease. I hope people reading “I Still Do” will have a better understanding of the importance of family caregivers and how difficult and isolating that life is. I want people who see my work to recognize that, while much is taken away by Alzheimer’s, a person is still left behind; a person who deserves respect, dignity and love. And I hope that people will recognize that there are gifts and moments of joy and beauty that come with even the most terrible of diseases.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Here's to the New Year

I’m finally over the end-of-the-year/holiday nightmare and I enter 2010 with a sense of guarded optimism. Everything seems to stop at the beginning of December, and I lose any momentum I might have had. So, good riddance to 2009 and welcome to this New Year. Let’s get to work!

Here’s what’s happening this week:

Thursday, January 7

Resource Magazine is having a silent auction from 6-11pm at Milk Gallery, 450 W. 15th St. Featuring work by such photographers as Danny Clinch, Henry Leutwyler, Martin Schoeller, Patricia McDonough, Walter Chin, Vincent Laforet and many more.
RSVP not required, but preferred

Saturday, January 9:

The Andrea Meislin Gallery presents Judith Fox's poignant and moving photographs of her husband who has Alzheimer's. The opening and signing of her PowerHouse book, I Still Do will be from 3-5pm at the Gallery, 526 W. 26th St. #214.

Check back here later in the week when I will be posting an interview with Judith Fox, a totally fascinating woman.

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